Kil’t Kale

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I don’t want to suggest that the only way to eat kale is when it’s smothered in bacon grease and bourbon. But I think it probably is the best way.

This is a recipe originally available from Garden and Gun (online here), passed on to me by a coworker who, like me, was sick of kale salad after kale salad. Again, not that there is really anything wrong with kale salad, but every once in a while, you want something a little more tender, more meaty, something easier to convince your loved ones to eat.

The foundation of the dish is something called “bacon jam,” a concoction of bourbon, bacon, bacon grease, vinegar, and a little bit of sugar. Once you’ve got that mixture, you toss in your chopped kale and wait for it to wilt. It practically melts into the bacon jam, leaving you with an amazing sweet/sour/bitter combination. Remember how I said that all flavor is a combination of fat, salt and acid? This is a perfect example of a good balance among the three. Continue reading

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge

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I try to be healthy. I really do. But sometimes, you have a day that begs for chocolate peanut butter fudge, and you just have to go with it.

And why not, when it’s as delicious and easy as this is? No oil, no dairy, only a minor little bit of sugar from the dark chocolate chips. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and even (mostly) Paleo, if you use another nut butter instead of the peanut butter (hazelnut, maybe). Continue reading

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (and roasted chickpeas)

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Guys. I promised you a vegetable. Here it is. 

I know, it’s not green. It doesn’t even look like a vegetable, really. What it looks like is what it is — an incredibly decadent, velvety, tummy-warming combination of butternut squash, spices and a little crispy surprise on top. 

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But…it’s all vegetables. I mean, there’s some stock in there, but that can be vegetable, too, if you want. There’s no dairy or gluten at all in this. In fact, it’s even Paleo if you leave off the chickpeas and replace it with, oh, shrimp instead. Which would be awesome, no kidding.

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This huge pot of soup also took me about 45 minutes and $8 to make. That’s like $1 a serving, which is amazing when you consider you’d probably pay $6 a cup for this little number at your favorite local restaurant. Good food on a budget? I am totally in. 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (and roasted chickpeas)
 
Author: Kate Wutz
A velvety dairy-free and gluten-free soup with vegan and paleo options. Totally the solution to that cold front you’re about to get hit with.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 cups good-quality stock (bone broth, beef stock, or vegetable stock)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp oil of your choice
  • pinch salt, pepper, cayenne
  • red pepper flakes for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, curry, salt, turmeric, paprika and coriander and cook until onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add butternut squash, carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash mushes easily. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then dump them between two tea towels and gently rub until dry. Toss with oil, salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper, then spread onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy, tossing halfway through so they cook evenly.
  3. Once the chickpeas are done, use an immersion blender (or a regular blender, in batches) to puree the soup. I left a few chunks in mine because I find perfectly pureed soups boring…some people like them. It’s up to to you.
  4. Ladle into individual serving bowls. Top with chickpeas and a smattering of chili flakes. Serve.
 
Notes
To make it paleo, omit chickpeas and substitute cooked shrimp.

 

Resolutions and Chicken Curry

cheap easy chicken curry vegan paleo options gluten-freeDid you make New Year’s resolutions? I almost never do. It seems to me if that if you want to change something in your life, you should just do it — go for it — change it, not try to force yourself to do that at an arbitrary time like the beginning of the year.

There is something symbolic and oddly satisfying about starting the new year with the best of intentions, though, with the optimism inherent in deciding that this year is going to be different. This year, I’ll make it to the gym three times a week. This year, I’ll keep up with blog posts. This year, I’ll finally read the financial magazines my husband constantly leaves around the house. This year, I’ll work harder to bring my lunch, not buy it.

Bringing my lunch is always a goal I’m working to achieve. Though I do get a break in the middle of the day for lunch, it’s also my chance to run errands, get a few extra hours in, or practice yoga. And with the price of a Cobb salad at my favorite lunch place reaching $10, it’s cheaper to bring lunch, too.

Curry is perfect for the purpose. It does have a smell, but it’s the kind that will have your officemates jealously wondering what you brought. It’s not too spicy, so you won’t spend the rest of the day smelling like it, and best of all — it has vegan and Paleo options to help you meet your other resolutions.

I borrowed most of this recipe from this one at Food52. The chickpeas were a last-second inspiration, but I love how they help stretch just a few chicken thighs into a meal that can feed you for at least three lunches. If you’re vegan, swap out the chicken for chickpeas and add the extra curry directly to the sauce. If you’re Paleo, swap out the chickpeas for extra chicken and maybe bump up the curry a little.

Whatever way you do it, it’s a delicious way to start the year off right.

Easy Chicken Curry
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
A warm and comforting chicken curry with vegan and Paleo options that will help you stick to your New Year’s resolution of bringing lunch to work. Or, you know, just being an awesome cook.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder, separated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (omit if desired)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bize-sized pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (make sure it’s thoroughly blended! Shake it up.)
  • White or cauliflower rice, if desired, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add 1 tsp curry powder, remaining spices, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  2. Toss chicken pieces in a plastic bag with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add to pan and cook until they start to brown, about eight minutes. Add chickpeas about three minutes in.
  3. Once chicken in brown, pour in coconut milk and stir to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat for about ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with white or cauliflower rice, naan, or whatever your heart desires.
 
Notes
To make vegan, simply replace the chicken with another 15-ounce can of chickpeas. Add the extra 1 1/2 tsp curry to the onions with the rest of the spices.[br]To make Paleo, replace chickpeas with three more chicken thighs and continue as directed.

 

 

Cranberry Orange Scones


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This weekend, I felt frustration at every turn. You know those days when nothing seems easy and everything seems to fight you? That was my weekend. And to top it all off, I had literally no inspiration whatsoever for this blog. 

It’s hard, writers’ block. Even worse is chef’s block. I found myself wandering around the kitchen, eating cheese out of the wrapper and whining about how I had no idea what to cook. Literally nothing sounded appealing.

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Until, of course, inspiration struck. The Kitchn had posted a recipe ages ago for a grain-free lemon blueberry scone, and while summery blueberries didn’t sound all that great to my apparently picky palette, I knew what did — cranberries and orange, a formerly ubiquitous combination that now seems to have fallen out of favor.

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I didn’t know it was possible to make grain-free and vegan scones, but as you can see, it clearly is. Like all scones, they are a touch on the dry side and a touch crumbly — the better to go with your tea, of course, and to show off that lovely Irish butter you should feel free to slather all over it (or Earth Balance, if you are in fact vegan).

These are equally delightful as breakfast, dessert or an afternoon snack. If you are not vegan, feel free to use cold butter instead of  coconut oil. 

Cranberry Orange Scones
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 8
Grain-free, gluten-free vegan scones with a Paleo option. That means you have no excuse not to make them.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup, for your Paleo option)
  • zest from one orange
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
  2. Combine almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add coconut oil and work with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest and whisk until very fragrant and well-combined. Whisk into the other ingredients.
  4. Add orange juice and almond milk, and stir with a spatula until very well-combined. The mixture will be crumbly, but you’ll see it will come together when pressed. Fold in dried cranberries.
  5. Dump dough onto the baking sheet and press into a ball. Flatten ball until the dough circle is about one inch high. Split with a knife into eight equal segments, wiggling the knife to create a solid separation between the wedges.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the outside is golden and the inside is still moist. Cool on a wire rack; serve with plenty of butter, margarine and/or tea.
 

 

Lemony Chard with Goat Cheese (gluten-free, with vegan and paleo options)

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I might be a really bad gardener, you guys.

This is my first year planting a garden, and I feel like so far, there may have been more misses than hits. My spinach died of something I think was a fungus but may have been water blisters; my tomato plants are puny and have yet to produce anything; half of my herbs have died. And this afternoon, I walked out to my cold frame to excitedly survey my kale, only to find that caterpillars have begun munching away at the leaves. Ugh.

The only thing that has survived, nay thrived, so far has been my rainbow chard. It somehow escaped whatever killed the spinach and is soaring high, bright happy stems aloft. It’s survived my erratic watering schedule (oops) and has missed the Great Caterpillar Invasion of ’14. This chard is my shining star.

Continue reading

Chicken Pesto Mushroom Bites (gluten-free, paleo option)

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Seeing people I know from work in other contexts is always so much fun. A co-worker of mine is expecting a baby next month, and I was lucky enough to attend her baby shower last weekend. Over wine, appetizers, and the most delicious mini cheesecakes in Idaho, ten of us laughed, talked, and listened, horrified, to the birth stories the others were sharing with us.

Suffice to say, I am adding to the list of reasons I’m not ready to have children. But I also realized as a result of this shower that I don’t have a single good appetizer recipe that can accommodate a number of dietary restrictions. Hummus is fine, but it needs to go with pita, which is not gluten-free; the mother-to-be doesn’t eat red meat, so my bacon-wrapped dates were out. I debated vegan jalapeno poppers, but that seemed just a little too strange, and more something to spring on my unsuspecting fiance next weekend than something that needed to be good because I was feeding it to other people.

Then, I came up with these mushrooms.

I was inspired by this recipe by Juli Bauer at PaleOMG, but modified it so heavily that pretty much the only thing the two recipes have in common are the mushrooms and the Italian inspiration. You make a very basic sundried tomato pesto, tuck it into mushroom caps, top it with pesto-infused chicken and cheese, and bake.

So simple, and so delicious — and totally reliable, provided everyone at your party eats chicken. If you’re paleo, make your own cheese-less pesto (as opposed to using store bought), and leave out the rest of the cheese.

Chicken Mushroom Pesto Bites

For the sundried tomato pesto
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto (homemade or jarred)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • heavy pinch of salt
For the mushrooms
  • 30 white or cremini mushrooms
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 Tbsp pesto (homemade or jarred)
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add basil pesto, sundried tomatoes, garlic and salt to a mini food processor or chopper and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Place on a dish towel to drain, then place in a baking dish.
  4. Combine chicken with pesto and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Take sundried tomato pesto and place a generous dab in the bottom of each mushroom cap. Add a heaping teaspoon of the chicken-pesto, then top with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender, chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted and a little brown. Serve immediately.